If you want to add a CD-RW drive to your PC, but don’t want the hassle of digging around inside it, this stylish, external, USB 2 device from Iomega could be a great alternative. Based around the kind of portable CD-RW drive found in a notebook, its clean silver and deep blue case is just about small enough to slip into a case or bag, so it can travel with you.
However, the Predator needs a separate power supply – one is supplied – so the unit won’t double as a personal CD player. The PSU is a separate, ‘black block’ supply and it’s a shame it can’t be integrated with the drive itself, to avoid having a separate item to carry around or kick around under your desk.
Controls on the drive are few and simple. There’s a single eject button at the front, which releases the lid, a volume control and headphone jack on the right-hand side and power and USB 2 sockets at the rear. Two pin-head LEDs show when the drive’s on and whether it’s reading or writing. There’s an extra novelty, too, in the small, spinning disc with a spiral design on it which spins around with the CD.
The performance of the Predator varies a lot, depending on its task. Using a 100MB basket of mixed files, varying from 10Kb to 20Mb, the drive read them all in around 45 seconds. To write the same set took twice as long, but the real time waster is formatting. Preparing a CD-RW disc for first use takes over 13 minutes. Although you should only need to format each disc once, you could get through quite a few coffees while waiting for the Predator.
Another annoying aspect of the drive is the noise it makes when running. When a disc spins up to 40-speed, there’s a very noticeable swishing noise, which can be distracting, particularly if listening to music from the drive. It’s difficult to know what you could do about this, apart from placing the Predator somewhere where the noise is masked.
Three main applications are provided with the device: Iomega’s HotBurn, MusicMatch Jukebox and Adobe’s ActiveShare. HotBurn handles CD-R and CD-RW recording in a similar way to Easy CD or Nero, while MusicMatch is a pretty comprehensive audio capture and translation application, for preparing MP3, WMA and audio CD compilations. ActiveShare deals with photo image management for those interested in digital photography.
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